10 Mind-blowing Alcohol Facts


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White Wine Can Be Made From Red Grapes
This Cahors white wine was made with the red grapes pictured, in Cahors, France. REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images

The wordy wine snob portrayed by Paul Giamatti in the movie "Sideways" probably could have expounded on this fact at length, but for those of us who think of fine wine as anything that doesn't come with a screw top, it probably comes as a surprise. You can make white wine from red grapes. Champagne, for example, is made from pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes (both red grapes) as well as chardonnay, and the three types of grapes are often blended.

All grape juice, which comes from the inside of the grapes, starts out as white. It's the skin that contains the red pigment. If the juice is squeezed out of the grapes and separated quickly from the skins, it remains white. By contrast, if winemakers are producing a red wine, they allow the juice to remain in contact with the red skins during fermentation. This causes the wine to become dark [source: Crosariol].

Author's Note: 10 Mind-blowing Alcohol Facts

It's odd to be writing about alcohol, since I very seldom drink anymore. When I was a young I worked in the newspaper business, where being able to hold your liquor once was considered a skill as integral to rising in the profession as being able to scribble pithy quotes into a notepad at a crime scene and then dictate a front-page story in 30 minutes from a pay-phone booth. I was never too good at that last part, but I tried to make up for it by closing down my share of smoke-filled bars and after-hours, as I tried to soak up whatever wisdom sprang from the boozy lips of my journalistic mentors, or maybe pick up a tip uttered by some inebriated lawyer, cop or politician.

But for me at least, that world vanished long ago, replaced by one in which I rise early, sit down at a computer in my living room to make Skype calls and pound out a seemingly endless stream of blog posts, tweets and articles for various websites. Given my workload, extra-strong Vietnamese coffee is the only mood-altering substance that I can afford to ingest. If I ever get the chance to retire, though, maybe I'll start drinking again.

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